The Council on American-Islamic Relations began a nationwide voter drive today, seeking to register more than 100,000 Muslim voters before the November elections. The effort started on the festival of Id al-Adha, which comes at the end of the annual hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. Here in Washington, the council offered registration forms and voter guides to the thousands of Muslims gathered for prayers and a bazaar at the District of Columbia Armory. Registration drives also took place at festivals in California, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio, council officials said.
Nihad Awad, the executive director of the council, which is an advocacy group here, said he wanted to encourage voting so that the size of the country's Muslim population which his group puts at roughly seven million, but others much lower would begin to translate into political power.
"Voting used to be an option," Mr. Awad said. "Now it is a must. Since Sept. 11, Muslim people feel disenfranchised. They feel they do not get the same political attention as other minorities…"
In the council booth at the festival here, volunteers provided directories that listed telephone numbers for members of Congress, other federal agencies, political parties and news organizations. They also distributed
pocket-sized guides with instructions on how to write a letter to a newspaper editor, what to do if the Federal Bureau of Investigation requests an interview, how to react to "anti-Muslim hate crimes" and what
to do if faced with discrimination at work or on an airplane.
An introduction to the voter guide says: "Muslims in America share a set of common values and interests that they should support and make known to others. By backing candidates that share our interests and concerns, you can help improve the moral, social and economic environment of this great land…"
On Friday, February 22, Washington-area Muslims will be offered voter registration materials at a festival celebrating Eid ul-Adha* (eed-al-ODD-ha), the holiday at the end of the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. (More than 20,000 people turned out for last year's prayers and festival. Some 10,000 American Muslims took part in this year's pilgrimage.)
The voter drive is part of a nationwide campaign by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and other Islamic advocacy groups to register 100,000 Muslim voters before the November elections. Similar
registration efforts will take place at Eid ul-Adha festivals in California, Ohio, Missouri, and other areas of the country.
At Friday's event, CAIR will distribute its "American Muslim Voter Registration Guide" containing an explanation of why Muslims should participate in the political process, instructions on how to conduct a
voter registration drive, a copy of the National Mail Voter Registration Form (www.fec.gov/votregis/vr.htm), a candidate survey, and a voter registration log sheet. (In two CAIR surveys of American Muslims, more than
95 percent of the respondents favored political participation.)
*Eid ul-Adha, or the "feast of sacrifice," commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children,
distribution of meat to the needy and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting "Eid Mubarak" or "blessed Eid."
There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America. SEE: CAIR's "The Mosque in America: A National Portrait" at http://www.cair-net.org/mosquereport.
WHEN: Friday, February 22, 10-11 a.m.
WHERE: DC Armory, 2001 E. Capitol St., Washington, D.C. (Take Metro's Blue/Orange Line to the Stadium-Armory Station. Please check in at Media Entrance and Media Desk.)
CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787
E-MAIL: [email protected]
On February 22,* Muslims in America will celebrate the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers at locations around the country. (*Some communities will celebrate Eid on February 23.) The prayers, and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha (eed-al-ODD-ha), or "festival of the sacrifice."
Eid ul-Adha commemorates the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God's command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting "Eid Mubarak" (eed-moo-BAR-ak) or "blessed Eid."
Each year, some two million Muslims go on Hajj. An estimated 10,000 American Muslims went on pilgrimage this year. There are an estimated seven million Muslims in America and 1.2 billion worldwide.
WHEN: The prayers are held in the early morning.
WHERE: The Eid prayers are held either in local mosques or in public facilities designed to accommodate large gatherings.
CONTACT: Call local Muslim organizations for details about Eid celebrations. If there are no known contacts, call CAIR at 202-488-8787 or 202-489-5108 to obtain phone numbers.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: Each year, Muslims from America and many different countries come to the prayers in colorful dress. The prayers themselves are quite visual, with worshipers arranged in neat rows and bowing in prayer in unison. Participants exchange embraces at the conclusion of the prayers.
NOTE: Because this is a religious service, reporters and photographers of both sexes should dress modestly. That means no shorts for men or short skirts for women. Some communities may ask female reporters and photographers to put a scarf over their hair while in the actual prayer area. Photographers should arrive early to get into position for the best shots. Photographers are also advised not to step directly in front of worshipers and to seek permission for close-up shots. Shots of shoes removed for prayer, and rear-angle shots of prostrating worshipers are considered clichéd and inappropriate.